The Rt Revd Graeme Knowles writes:
IT CAME as no surprise that, at the Ven. Norman Crowder's
funeral in Salisbury Cathedral, his son, Richard, read from T. S.
Eliot. Eliot, together with the game of cricket, was a personal
passion for Norman. As Bishop David Stancliffe said in his sermon
at the funeral, "Rarely did a sermon at Portsmouth Cathedral fail
to include a quotation from Eliot's Four Quartets."
Norman Harry Crowder was born in Nottingham, and educated
locally, before going up to St John's College, Cambridge, to read
classics. After training at Westcott House, and under the influence
of Bishop Frank Barry, Norman returned to the diocese of Southwell
to serve his title. From 1955 until 1959, he was domestic chaplain
to Launcelot Fleming, then Bishop of Portsmouth. His years at
Canford School followed, first as assistant chaplain, then as
chaplain. It was while he was at Canford that he met and married
Of his time at Canford, reflecting on the chaplain's task of
holding a balance between the desire for change and the status quo,
he wrote that he had pursued "innovation without losing sight of
the one eternal changelessness that mankind has found and woven
into his liturgies". The Eliot passage read at his funeral ("At
Graduation 1905") contained the lines: "And let thy motto be, proud
and serene, Still as the years pass by, the word Progress". Norman
was always seeking: new ideas; new concepts; new friends. Life was
never closed for him: there was always the expectation of new
After Canford, in 1972, Norman and Pauleen moved back to the
diocese of Portsmouth, where Norman served as Vicar of St John's,
Oakfield, on the Isle of Wight. In 1975, at the invitation of
Bishop Ronald Gordon, he became Residentiary Canon, and Director of
Education. There followed ten years in which Norman was part of an
inspiring team at Portsmouth Cathedral, led from 1982 by David
Stancliffe. His work in and around the diocese, in its many church
schools, brought a dimension to cathedral life which was integral
to the vision for a new way of being "cathedral" that was being
worked out and developed.
It seemed a natural progression that Norman should succeed the
Ven. Ronald Scruby as Archdeacon of Portsmouth. The archdeaconry,
which covered the UPA parishes of Portsea as well as the lush
villages of the Meon Valley, was demanding. Norman brought to the
task humour and rigour. A note from him, written in his small,
neat, and highly characteristic handwriting, was never ambiguous.
His visitation charges were a model of that balance between
policeman and pastor which is the archdeacon's vocation.
Retirement to Salisbury brought Norman back to chaplaincy and
cricket, at the Cathedral School, underlining the intensely
pastoral nature of his calling as a priest.
Printed on the inside cover of the order of service for his
funeral were the words from the 1662 Ordinal: ". . . have always
therefore printed in your remembrance how great a treasure is
committed to your charge." Norman never forgot how great the
treasure was, and he was a faithful watchman, messenger, and
steward, as he was ordained to be.